Zinc, the Art Gallery of Alberta’s modern restaurant, hums on Friday and Saturday evenings. Through the two-storey-tall front windows, you can see it filling with arts patrons out before a concert, play or exhibition in the arts district.
Zinc has a long, worthy wine list, but the signature-cocktail list is even better. Besides, one can find fine wine across the city, but a stiff lemonade? Golden. The $10 zippy blend of ginger ale, citrus and Van Gogh vodka stands out amongst the other cocktails that seem imported from the set of Mad Men.
Pair your cocktails with starters like the duck ($15) from chef David Omar’s menu. The pan seared breast is balanced with a smoked canola vinaigrette that helps dissipate the oily texture the meat leaves behind.
For $18, try the scallops with crispy exteriors and buttery insides. Served with seared tuna and ceviche on zucchini disks, it also loads a lot of flavour into a small package. Or, enjoy the mushroom and leek tart ($14), a delicate puff pastry served with warm greens and a balsamic reduction that gives a check to the mushroom’s earthiness.
If you’re looking for more variety, a $69 seven-course exhibit sees the kitchen prepare a full tasting experience from the seasonal menu, while you no doubt relish that expansive downtown view and the reverse people-watching that such luxury invokes. (99 Street and 102 Avenue, 780-392-2501)